The subject of ethics within the games journalist industry has been a hot topic over the years.
Back in 2014, then Breitbart London writer Milo Yiannopoulos exposed a private Google Groups mailing list called Gaming Journalism Professionals or GameJournoPros. Yiannopoulous described the email list as a way “to shape industry-wide attitudes to events.” The email list featured Ars Technica gaming editor Kyle Orland, Polygon editor Ben Kuchera, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, GamePolitics’ James Fudge, and Daily Dot’s Mike Wehner.
Now, journalist Sophia Narwitz has exposed another group of “journalists” described as “the clique” who are gatekeeping conservatives out of the games news industry.
In an article on RT, Sophia reveals a conversation she had with “an influential figure from a leading game website” who explains that “a clique of like-minded figures are colluding to prevent right-leaning journalists and developers from having a voice in the industry.”
This anonymous source tells Narwitz, “If you were openly a conservative and tried to apply to any of the mainstream outlets that are on the coasts, I don’t think you’d have a chance in hell of getting in.”
The source adds, “There’s a lot of us that probably think there’s a clique, well, that know there’s a clique.”
Like the GamesJournoPros list, Nartwitz details this clique consists of people from websites like “Kotaku, Polygon, Vice, Ars Technica, GameDaily, Gamespot, Eurogamer, and loads more.” Narwitz like Yiannopoulous did name some names. Those names include Danny O’Dwyer formerly of Gamespot and Laura K. Dale formerly of Kotaku.
The source claims this clique monitors people’s opinions and details that if you say the wrong thing “you’re asking for trouble.”
They explain, “People won’t write something, or we won’t say anything on Twitter or whatever because you spew one wrong opinion and you’re asking for trouble.”
The source adds, “Unless you don’t care about potential opportunities within the industry, a lot of people just don’t say what they’re actually thinking.”
They continue, “I think you’d be surprised by how many writers can’t stand the clique in this space. Most won’t say anything because they need the work, ya know?””
“Sounds cowardly, but there’s definitely a lot of fear in this space that people will get cancelled for speaking out against a lot of what’s going on, “adds the source.
This doesn’t just apply to people who are interested in covering the gaming industry, it applies to developers as well. The source explains, “A lot of times they [game developers] feel spoken for, from the press, and that’s not what they’re actually thinking.”
They continue, “They can’t be open and honest about their actual opinions without something being ripped from them and spun in a way that is negative towards them if they’re not on the same page with everybody else.”
Narwitz also details that her source explained that this clique decided to not cover a controversial figure who had been punished by a gaming organization because they were right wing in their political beliefs.
Narwitz’s source states, “They don’t want to cover things because they don’t like somebody, and that’s not how you do journalism. That’s blogging.”
Finally the source concludes by detailing that this clique, “control the messaging.”
“They control the messaging, they have the influence, and paint themselves as these moral grandstanders, and anyone that’s not in line with that, are pushed out to carve their own niche.”
As we’ve covered here in the past, a number of game journalists have made it clear they target people based on whether or not they believe them to be a “good” person. And it’s not just people they have targeted, they have also attempted to use their platforms to fundamentally change video games.
Eurogamer writer Paul Watson attempted to organize a YouTube strike brigade against YouTuber The Quartering after he did a video about. VG 24/7’s deputy editor Kirk McKeand’s comments about the political situation in the United Kingdom involving YouTuber Sargon of Akkad
“Game journalist” Chris Scullion threatened to give the upcoming Earthworm Jim video game a bad review if Earthworm Jim creator Doug TenNapel was involved in the project. Scullion stated, “As a journalist I’m 100% keen to cover the Amico in general and review as many of its games as possible, but I hope you appreciate that it may be trickier for me to review this one if Doug is involved.”
Eurogamer writer Vikki Blake complained about the level of difficulty in video games by comparing it to wheelchair accessibility.
You also have insane hot takes that deal with game difficulty; where a “journalist” had the nerve to compare a game’s difficulty to wheelchair accessibility.
But it isn’t only the “journalists” their editors look for controversies anywhere possible.
Examples such as Kotaku editor Jason Schrire libeling Mark Kern as “alt-right troll or when Kotaku UK accused the Super Smash Bros Ultimate’s Persona 5 DLC of having a disability slur because they don’t understand how some languages pronounce certain English letters. In the latter case, the Editor even went so far as to throw their writer under the bus after and at first not allow her to explain how the mistake accorded.
More recently Kotaku’s Paul Tamayo targeted Journey to the Savage Planet over the game’s use of the word “savage.” He claims the use of the word in the title is offensive because “the word savage has a long history being used to justify violent behavior by colonizers.”
What do you make of Narwitz’s source exposing this seemingly reformed clique of video game journalists who are manipulating video game coverage?